Award-winning support for business start-ups and self-employment from Northamptonshire libraries

Enterprise Hubs, a partnership development between Northamptonshire Library and Information Service and the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership which stimulates business start-ups and self-employment among the region’s budding entrepreneurs and job seekers, was today announced the winner of the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award by William Sieghart.

Enterprise Hubs helps people turn their skills and ideas into new businesses and self-employment. The initiative meets the needs of the community by providing information and support about jobs and employability. It was developed by library staff in partnership with the Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership.

Since launching in April 2012 the service has helped over 900 people, including people who would not have otherwise considered entrepreneurship. Accounting for about 10% of the county’s start-ups in that period, 105 are confirmed as already trading in areas ranging from boat-building and veterinary lab services to creative arts and cleaning services.  In addition, some have become job creators, taking on staff and apprentices.

Secretary of State for Communities and Local Government, Rt Hon Eric Pickles, MP said:

“It is extremely good to see the extent of the success of Northamptonshire’s Libraries in leading residents to brand new careers and creating jobs in the region. This is exactly what the DCLG set out to achieve in supporting the Enterprising Libraries programme and is an example of the vital support for entrepreneurship which is available via the library network in towns and cities across England.”

Run across six of the county’s libraries, the Enterprise Hubs service provides a range of support to make businesses happen. Support includes free and low cost business expertise and essential insight into local markets and opportunities. Services are provided in a range of formats including drop-in sessions, one-on-one consultations and workshops. Enterprise Hubs also helps with rental access to low-cost office and meeting space.

Philip Wark, Chair of the CILIP Libraries Change Lives Award judging panel said:

“Northamptonshire Libraries are part of a growing success story of libraries serving as business hubs across the UK. There are simply not enough jobs in the local jobs market so these enterprising libraries dedicate staff and resources to tackle this by equipping members of the community with the means to create work to support themselves, take control of their own prosperity and even become employers to others.

The success of Northamptonshire’s service speaks for itself and is tangible proof of how public libraries fuel a holistic approach to individual and community wellbeing, including health, culture and economic.”

Grace Kempster, Customer and Library Services Manager, Northamptonshire said:

“This is a thrilling national  accolade from  our Chartered Institute  - it is a credit to the alliance with our Economic Partnership here in Northamptonshire, to the hard work and amazing courage and resilience of Library Plus personnel to seize the opportunity and turn the dream of start up business support into a rich and enduring reality. 

Our Library Plus has shown how lives really can be transformed by delivering amazing practical help and constant encouragement to local people to make their business ideas and aspirations – their dreams - become real - and play their part in significant positive economic development.

Library Plus transforms futures and is the foundation of local economic wellbeing. “

The other two finalists on the award shortlist were Hertfordshire Libraries, for their Kids Hub Library Sessions initiative, which is bringing greater equality and social inclusion to children with severe learning difficulties and their families; and Leeds Library and Information Service for their Studio 12 Writing Leeds project, which opens up opportunities in the creative industries for young people, particularly disadvantaged youths from an inner city BME community.

Now in its 23rd year, the annual award showcases the vital role of library-based initiatives from around the UK that are designed and delivered by library staff working in partnership with other organisations to address current needs in their local communities. These projects not only transform lives at a personal level, but have a real impact on the wellbeing of local communities and help fuel the local and national economy.

Previous winners include Bookstart and HMP Edinburgh.

- Ends-

Press contact:

Cat Cooper
Communications and Campaigns Manager, CILIP
Tel: 020 7255 0653

Notes to editors:

1. A short film and photographs are available:

Watch a short film about the project or a series of films of the projects shortlisted for 2014.
The videos are licensed under a Youtube standard license. Information about embedding videos.
Series of photographs
The photographs are licensed under a Creative Commons non-commercial attribution share alike license.
2. CILIP: the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals is the leading professional body for librarians, information specialists and knowledge managers. CILIP’s vision is a fair and economically prosperous society underpinned by literacy, access to information and the transfer of knowledge. CILIP is a registered charity, no. 313014. Visit for more information.
3. The CILIP Community, Diversity and Equality Group work towards development of a diverse library and information workforce; one that supports communities to achieve sustainable needs-based services.

4. William Sieghart is a philanthropist, entrepreneur, publisher and the founder of the Forward Prizes for Poetry. In 1986 William co-founded Forward Publishing, publishing magazines, children’s books and poetry books. He is the author of a best-selling book on golf, The Swing Factory. William also founded Big Arts Week and Street Smart, the initiative whereby diners give a percentage of their restaurant bill to the homeless. He was a member of Arts Council England 2000-2006, and was chair of its Lottery Panel. William is a Trustee of the Esmee Fairbairn Foundation, Free Word Centre and Reprieve. He Chairs the Independent Review of Public Library Services in England that has been jointly commissioned by the Culture Department and the Department for Communities and Local Government.